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DIO projects provide unique opportunities for apprentices

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprentices, RAF Lakenheath, Working at DIO
A demolition vehicle is located on the left with removal of construction materials beside it. A building is located on the left that is being demolished.
Demolition to remove buildings at RAF Lakenheath [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]

From visiting military firing ranges to supporting multi-million pound infrastructure programmes, apprenticeships at DIO can offer a unique insight into the world of Defence.

DIO is proud to offer a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities to help people kick start their careers and develop specialist skills. There’s a common myth that apprenticeships are aimed at those leaving school, but that’s not true, they are available to everyone and are a great way to learn on the job. Apprentices can gain a nationally-recognised qualification up to Level 7, which is equivalent to a degree and masters, without having to pay off a student loan.

Apprentices are working on many of DIO’s key projects, including at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

The US Visiting Forces Infrastructure Programme (UIP) is made up of several more focused projects to develop infrastructure at various RAF bases which are used by the US Air Force.The most advanced of these is the RAF Lakenheath F-35 programme. RAF Lakenheath will be the first permanent international site for US Air Force F-35s in Europe and construction began in July this year to prepare the airbase for the arrival of two new squadrons of US F-35s in 2021.

DIO is working with joint venture Kier VolkerFitzpatrick as part of a £160m contract to build a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities at Lakenheath.

Leaders from RAF Lakenheath, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, West Suffolk and Kier VolkerFitzpatrick pose for a photo at RAF Lakenheath, England, Nov. 19, 2018. (Copyright, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex Echols)
Leaders from RAF Lakenheath, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, West Suffolk and Kier VolkerFitzpatrick pose for a photo at RAF Lakenheath, England, Nov. 19, 2018. [Crown Copyright/U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex Echols]

It is important to DIO and its partners that the local community is involved, and that the projects have a positive impact on the local area.

DIO encourages and supports all of its contractors to develop apprenticeship programmes as part of their work, we currently have 71 apprentices who are working towards an array of apprenticeships, including Higher and Degree qualifications.

At Lakenheath there is a target to employ 16 apprentices on site before the end of the programme, so far eight have been recruited through VolkerFitzpatrick and Kier.

Hayden Scarth on the left of the picture with other apprentices working on the UIP programme [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]

Hayden Scarth is one of the apprentices currently working at Lakenheath. He said:

I am planning on becoming a Quantity Surveyor.  I did a week’s work experience at a construction consultancy recently and I really enjoyed it. My dad worked for VolkerFitzpatrick and he told me about the apprenticeship at KVF.

I started by doing a six-week summer placement. I was then meant to move on to an HND in Quantity Surveying, but I did some research online and found an apprenticeship at Nottingham Trent University. I discussed this with my line manager and KVF agreed to fund the course for me while I continued to work as an apprentice, so I am working towards a Chartered Degree Apprenticeship in Quantity Surveying and in Construction and Commercial Management at Nottingham Trent University.

It’s a five-year course, chartered with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). I’m working on site four days a week and studying one day a week and at weekends.

It’s challenging, I am learning something new every day and getting to apply what I’ve learned.

I love the fast pace of the work and that I get to be out and about on site. I have already learned the importance of getting out and seeing what is happening. It’s great to have the experience of working on such large and complex projects with big budgets.

I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship. It is a quicker route to qualification, you get real life experience and you earn money while you are learning!

DIO has a range of apprenticeships on offer to support existing and new staff who wish to develop new skills or upskill through gaining new knowledge and experience.  By achieving an apprenticeship, individuals can gain a recognised qualification while working and studying. The offer is open to anyone over the age of 16 regardless of background.

We also have a dedicated team which is actively working across the business to support apprentices and their line managers.  DIO apprentices can participate in the recently introduced Community of Practice, a forum which enables apprentices to come together on a regular basis to share knowledge and good practice which in turn creates a great space for enhancing the learning aligned to their apprenticeship.

The team is working across the business to create more apprenticeship opportunities for existing staff and new entrants, particularly in areas where we require new talent to address skills gaps.

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